Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ex-Mess, A Recap

Here we are well past the tail end of another December 25th, having ringed in the New Year. Our house, like the homes of many others with children, went through a transition. It became a place resembling a littered city after a ticker-tape parade and slowly returned to a subjective state we call normalcy.

This year we found ourselves on the receiving end of a couple of gifts that were real hell-raisers. Now, if Mom and Dad are crying WTF, something must be up. I won't call any gifts out by name or explicit description, but I want to air a couple of grievances.

One: Those people who write those age recommendations for kids' toys product packaging know a lot about laws/liability and a surprising amount about what's appropriate for a child of a given age. Now, you may think our kids are SOOO smart (and they are, mind you -- just like everyone else's prides and joys) but he or she may have a sibling who is too young to know better. Please keep that in mind, people, when you're choosing the cutest science-inspired erupting volcano-like contraption that is certain to do one thing alone -- wreck our dining room and cause Mom and Dad to spout age-inappropriate phrases after stepping upon one of hundreds of misplaced plastic remnants that have landed on the floor.

Two: Packaging. I might already be on the road to dressing my kids in clothes sans zippers and cutting off electricity to our house, but, by Zeus, I am just goddammed tired of excess plastic packaging. This doesn't go for toys exclusively, but toys seem to be a prime offender. The toy itself is made of plastic. It's doubly encased in a plastic clamshell and plastic twist-tied to the plastic-reinforced header card. Some of these things take me 10 minutes to extract intact with a tool or two. Then I get to spend another 10 minutes bagging and disposing of this plastic, all the while carrying a heavy heart in addition to the bag of useless plastic shit going to the can.

All kind-hearted givers of gifts to young people can help. Head it off at the pass. Don't buy or gift useless, meaningless crap. Cute is not an acceptable enough excuse for Mini Coopers or Julia Roberts, let alone dumb bobbles made in somewhere else.

Am I looking forward to the myriad arguments that will erupt when I tell my daughters they can't have something because it is useless and wasteful? No. Am I looking forward to the greater good this "hardline" stance can affect? Yes.

Not to worry. I'll be sure we have plenty of fun along the way. In the meantime, I'll be carving some whalebone buttons in the shop.

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